“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves”. Truly delightful surprise

“Dungeons & Dragons” is a truly delightful surprise. It’s rare to find such fantastically relaxing films.


6 May 2024

Dungeons & Dragons

Usually, a trailer is enough for me to decide whether I want to watch a particular film or not, or if it’s better to skip it. However, there are times when a good title gets a surprisingly lackluster preview. This was exactly the case with a high-budget fantasy production whose trailers promised a mess of poor CGI effects, bland, uninspiring content. Nonetheless, something intrigued me enough to see it, and I’m glad I did because “Dungeons & Dragons” turned out to be a great, light-hearted film, perfect for lifting spirits.

The world (or worlds) of “Dungeons & Dragons” where the action takes place was created for RPG sessions in the seventies (at least its initial version). It’s vast, so the screenwriters had plenty to draw from, but they could have easily veered into chaotic storytelling only understandable to fans of the original paper game. Fortunately, the creators (Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Michael Gilio) knew what they were doing. They skillfully tapped into rich sources and crafted a story that provides a good glimpse into the realm of Forgotten Realms (part of D&D), accessible both to newcomers who’ve never heard of it and its ardent fans. Moreover, the plot feels like just a slice of the region’s history, not focusing solely on pivotal events.

In essence, this is a heist movie set in a fantasy world, where a group of thieves must pull off a daring and complex heist. Think “Ocean’s Eleven” in a fantasy setting. The main characters are incredibly likable and well-drawn, although one shouldn’t expect deep psychological portraits, and that’s fine because they would only detract. Each protagonist has clear motivation and a role to play. The screenwriters skillfully juggle both fantasy and action movie conventions, sometimes brilliantly subverting them (an obese dragon!) or intelligently paraphrasing. And because they weren’t short on creativity, the audience is in for several surprises during the screening.

dungeons & dragons

Often, films lose momentum after an interesting start, but here, it’s the opposite—once the characters embark on their mission, a fantastic adventure unfolds until the credits roll. Everything is perfectly blended with a healthy dose of understated humor. It evokes comparisons with the best titles in the genre, though this film isn’t and wasn’t meant to be an epic saga like “The Lord of the Rings,” but rather entertaining, light-hearted fare. The creators themselves admit drawing inspiration from Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

The casting is excellent. Chris Pine already proved his charisma in “Star Trek,” and here his bard Edgin, the group’s leader, exudes a roguish charm. Michelle Rodriguez plays the feisty warrior Holga (not particularly bright), and Regé-Jean Page embodies the impeccable hero whose perfection is almost ironic, as others comment. But the standout is undoubtedly Hugh Grant, who, with his usual mannerisms, brings undeniable charm even to a slimy, duplicitous character.

“Dungeons & Dragons” is a truly delightful surprise. It’s rare to find such fantastically relaxing films. Unfortunately, the title didn’t sell well, so similar films likely won’t be made anytime soon (let alone a sequel). It’s a shame because amidst the flood of superhero films, which are becoming louder, bigger, and often emotionally void, Edgin’s adventures and company are like a refreshing drink on a hot day. It’s definitely worth giving this film a chance, as it provides adventure with a capital A.

Written by Piotr Zymelka



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